The Eagles are speaking out against a “Hotel California”-sampling track by Odd Future vocalist Frank Ocean. “American Wedding,” which appeared on Ocean’s 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, liberally borrows the melody of the band’s signature hit – though the singer’s alternate lyrics about “Hijabs and polygamist husbands” show some marked difference from the original.
After Eagles lead singer Don Henley allegedly reached out to Ocean earlier this week and threatened a lawsuit, Ocean fired back on his Tumblr. “He (They) threatened to sue if I perform it again. I think that’s fuckin’ awesome. I guess if I play it at Coachella it’ll cost me a couple hundred racks . . . They also asked that I release a statement expressing my admiration for Mr. Henley, along with my assistance pulling it off the web as much as possible.” Ocean insisted that he was paying homage to the Eagles and noted that he released Nostalgia, Ultra for free online.
Today the Eagles responded forcefully, via band spokesman Larry Solters:
Frank Ocean did not merely “sample” a portion of the Eagles’ Hotel California; he took the whole master track, plus the song’s existing melody, and replaced the lyrics with his own. This is not creative, let alone “intimidating.” It’s illegal. For the record, Don Henley has not threatened or instituted any legal action against Frank Ocean, although the Eagles are now considering whether they should. Any further questions regarding this matter should be directed to Warner Music Group as it is the entity that currently owns the master recording and made the contact with Frank Ocean’s representatives concerning his infringement of the master recording.
Ocean has yet to respond. Regardless of his new rivalry, the suave singer has already earned plenty from Nostalgia, Ultra: it was Number 24 on Rolling Stone‘s 50 Best Albums of 2011.